Teachers perceptions of bilingual clil programs in nsw primary schools
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Teachers’ perceptions of bilingual/CLIL programs in NSW primary schools. Ruth Fielding and Lesley Harbon.

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Teachers’ perceptions of bilingual/CLIL programs in NSW primary schools

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Teachers perceptions of bilingual clil programs in nsw primary schools

Teachers’ perceptions of bilingual/CLIL programs in NSW primary schools

Ruth Fielding and Lesley Harbon


Teachers perceptions of bilingual clil programs in nsw primary schools

This study explores the implementation of bilingual education programs in four Australian primary schools offering a bilingual program for Indonesian, Korean, Chinese or Japanese according to the current government priority for the teaching of these four languages other than English. It outlines the complexities faced in implementation.


Teachers perceptions of bilingual clil programs in nsw primary schools

  • This study examines the state and nature of the current implementation of the Bilingual Schools Program in four NSW primary schools:

    • Korean;

    • Mandarin;

    • Indonesian;

    • Japanese.


Project aims

Project aims

  • Gathered data from stakeholders across the first three years of implementation of the program in order that

    • (i) a fuller picture of the programs is possible,

    • (ii) a more complete understanding of the different models of implementation can be known, and

    • (iii) conversations can continue to explore how to foster the strengths of the programs and move into the future.

  • Aimed to examine stakeholder groups’ (language teachers, language teacher assistants, classroom teachers, school principals, parents, students, and DET Curriculum Directorate Languages officers) perceptions of many of the aspects of the first 3 years of implementation of the Bilingual Schools Project (teaching/learning/materials/student learning outcomes).

  • Aimed to ascertain the characteristics of each model of implementation of the bilingual languages program in each of the four schools.

  • Aimed to investigate the extent to which the Content and Languages Integrated Learning (CLIL) model of implementation of these four languages programs is perceived by stakeholders to ‘value add’ to the primary school experience.


Data collection

Data Collection

  •  Data collection involved

    • questionnaire,

    • interviews and focus groups,

    • observation of classes

      in each of the four schools to provide information on the four models.

  • Data were sourced from all key stakeholders across two phases – 2011 and 2012


Theoretical pedagogical underpinning

Theoretical & Pedagogical Underpinning

  • A key definition of CLIL, underpinning the authors’ understandings of this bilingual education model of implementation, and quoted to stakeholders in the study’s data collection questions is:

  • “In short, CLIL is a dual-focused educational approach in which an additional language is used for the learning and teaching of both content and language.” and (p. 11) “The CLIL strategy, above all, involves using a language that is not a student’s native language as a medium of instruction and learning … Language teachers in CLIL programmes play a unique role. In addition to teaching the standard curriculum, they work to support content teachers by helping students to gain the language needed to manipulate content from other subjects.”Mehisto, Marsh and Frigols (2008, p. 9)


Analysis

Analysis

  • Each set of data were

    • thematically analysed using a grounded approach and content analysis.

    • themes emerged both from the data through the participants’ own words,

    • and from the existing literature on CLIL


Scope of the data

Scope of the Data

  • The researchers note here the unequal response rate for each stakeholder group across the four schools. This occurred due to contextual factors such as timing of distribution of questionnaires, teachers’ busy schedules, and different classroom schedules.

  • Data were not sought in order to make generalisations about the schools or the participants, rather to provide an illustrative picture of the teaching and learning taking place in the bilingual schools.


Teacher perceptions

Teacher Perceptions

Questionnaire Data – All teachers in the schools

  • Almost fifty per cent of teachers agree that the bilingual program is a success.

  • However approximately half of those responding also indicated they did not feel involved, or indicated a neutral response to their involvement.

  • Most teachers believed that incremental implementation was the only feasible model of bilingual program implementation.


Teacher perceptions1

Teacher Perceptions

  • Some teaching staff believe the pedagogies align with primary teaching already in existence in the school. Others less involved did not feel able to comment on the pedagogies.

  • On the whole, teachers indicate their support of the model of implementation - one specific language teacher, supported by an assistant. A native speaker assistant is desirable, but often not available.

  • Teachers’ perceptions of the bilingual teachers were generally that the bilingual teachers are highly accomplished.


Teacher perceptions2

Teacher Perceptions

  • Some teachers explicitly described the classroom teachers and bilingual teachers planning together, others didn’t.

  • Approximately half of the teachers responding indicated agreement that students appear to be achieving intended learning outcomes.

  • More than half of the teachers appear undecided about whether students are ‘engaged’ in the bilingual program,

  • They are equally undecided about whether students know a lot about language or language learning per se as a result of their participation in the bilingual program.


Teacher perceptions3

Teacher Perceptions

  • The teachers indicated a mix of responses regarding what they had heard about the success of the bilingual program outside the school context in the wider community.

  • Approximately half of the teachers responding agreed that there is sufficient support from the Principal and wider parent and school community to run a successful bilingual program.


Parent perceptions

Parent Perceptions

  • Close to seventy five per cent of parents agree that the bilingual program is a success.

  • Approximately 70% of the parents responded that they have observed their child to be achieving specific learning outcomes in the bilingual program.

  • In regard to parents’ indications of their own involvement in the delivery of the bilingual program, most parents indicated that they have not been integrally involved in the bilingual program, with a good number indicating their desire to be more involved. Parents were across the scale in their indications of their support to the bilingual program.


Parent perceptions1

Parent Perceptions

  • Approximately half of the parents indicated an agreement with incremental implementation as the model of bilingual program implementation in the early stages, as schools begin to offer a bilingual languages education program.

  • Parents were strongly in agreement about the bilingual teaching fitting in with the primary teaching already in existence in the school.

  • Parents overwhelmingly indicated their support of the model of implementation where there is one specific language teacher, supported by an assistant.


Parent perceptions2

Parent Perceptions

  • A majority of parents indicated their belief that the bilingual teachers are highly accomplished.

  • The large number (n = 76, out of 132) of neutral responses to the statement “The bilingual teacher teaches differently compared to a regular classroom teacher in a non-bilingual classroom” may indicate parents’ lack of knowledge of the bilingual pedagogy being adopted in the schools and lack of awareness about what goes on in the bilingual classrooms.

  • About three quarters of the parents indicated that their child appears to be ‘engaged’ in the bilingual program. Approximately 70% of the parents agreed that their child knows a lot about language and language learning as a result of being in the bilingual program.


Parent perceptions3

Parent Perceptions

  • Only approximately one third of the parents agreed that they had heard about the success of the bilingual program outside the school context itself.

  • A majority of parents responding agreed that there is sufficient support from the Principal and wider parent and school community to run a successful bilingual program. Close to fifty per cent of parents responding believe that more support is needed for the successful implementation of this bilingual program.

  • Parents across the schools believe a number of things are needed to make the program more successful.


Student perceptions

Student Perceptions

  • Students express joy in learning in the bilingual program.

  • Students across all four schools loved the pedagogies used in the bilingual lessons such as singing, hands-on creative work, using the interactive white board, the teacher’s friendly style.

  • Students showed that they had integrated knowledge of content and language. They took time to explain the things they had learned in English which had been taught to them in the other language.


Student perceptions1

Student Perceptions

  • Some students were aware that other schools do not have bilingual programs, others were not aware of this.

  • Students were keen to demonstrate their skills by spontaneously singing songs, recounting what they can do, showing parents and siblings what they know and attempting to use the language in the wider community.


Student perceptions2

Student Perceptions


Department of education consultants perceptions

Department of Education Consultants’ Perceptions

  • The DEC CLIC Languages Officers see many strengths in the bilingual schools.

  • They believe the learning experiences for the children in these schools are incredibly rich and “additive” in terms of strengthening the schooling experience of all involved.

  • The Curriculum Officers’ concerns echo those of other stakeholders and revolve around concern for the continuity of the programs. Ongoing funding is seen as essential to ensure that the programs continue, as is the importance of ongoing executive staff and principals and vice-principals who are committed to the program.


Department of education consultants perceptions1

Department of Education Consultants’ Perceptions

  • The curriculum officers believe that the children themselves will be the best way to demonstrate the ongoing need for the program as their skills, expertise and enthusiasm for languages and cultures will be evidence of the success of the program.

  • Promoting the successes of the program more widely is identified as an important step in ensuring that the programs continue.


Challenges to implementation

Challenges to Implementation

  • Lack of ongoing funding commitment – a concern to all

  • Lack of understanding about the program among staff not involved directly in delivery

  • Program seen by some as an obstacle to high stakes testing in Year 3

  • Those directly involved in the program – teachers, parents and students see the program as highly successful and beneficial for the students


Thank you

Thank you


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